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Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 (Second Generation)

USB 2.0 audio interface for Mac® and PC

1 Review

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Item # 880SC182G2

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Our take on the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 (Second Generation)

Focusrite's newly redesigned Scarlett 18i20 has what it takes to make polished, professional-sounding recordings. It features eight high-quality Focusrite mic preamps, extensive and expandable input/output options, and a host of bundled software to get you started making music quickly.

Outfit your studio with Focusrite's top-of-the-line Scarlett interface

Focusrite's newly redesigned Scarlett 18i20 has what it takes to make polished, professional-sounding recordings. It features eight high-quality Focusrite mic preamps, extensive and expandable input/output options, and a host of bundled software to get you started making music quickly.

Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 computer audio interface

Faster, better performance

This interface's super-low latency makes capturing great-sounding tracks easier than ever. That's because you can record and monitor in real time using software effects, plug-ins, and virtual instruments from your DAW — instead of relying on monitoring dry input signals. (Give that vocalist a little reverb in their mix to make them feel comfortable, and you might find yourself capturing better takes!) Focusrite also updated their already highly acclaimed mic preamps to offer more even, precise gain adjustment. Plus, they've improved the headroom of the direct instrument input to cleanly capture stronger signals, like really hot electric guitar pickups.

Inputs for your audio sources

The front panel features two combination inputs which can accommodate XLR or 1/4" connectors. Plug in a microphone or line-level signal, or switch either input to "Instrument" for direct connection of an electric guitar or bass. Six more rear-panel combo inputs can accept mic and line-level signals. Phantom power is supplied to four inputs at a time with a push of one of the two front-panel 48-volt selectors.

Need more inputs? The optical digital input on the back panel can accept an eight-channel ADAT stream from an external device like a mic preamp console with an ADAT output. This connection lets you take full advantage of this interface's impressive 18-channel input capability, so you can mike an entire band, from vocals and guitars, to keyboards and drum kits.

An impressive list of bundled software

The Scarlett 18i20 is designed to work flawlessly with all major DAW software, but if you're just getting started, you'll appreciate that this interface comes bundled with Avid Pro Tools® First as well as Ableton Live Lite. You also get newly designed Focusrite Control software for intuitive control of your mixing and monitoring setups. The bundled software package also includes the Focusrite Red Plug-In Suite, Novation's Bass Station Virtual synthesizer, and 2GB of Loopmasters samples.

Product Highlights:

  • computer audio interface with 18 input and 20 output channels
  • 8 newly redesigned Focusrite mic preamps offer low noise, high headroom, and evenly distributed gain
  • redesigned direct instrument input signal path offers improved headroom, so it can handle seriously hot electric guitar pickups
  • super-low latency lets you record and monitor with software effects in real time
    • roundtrip latency as low as 2.74ms
  • new, intuitive Focusrite Control software for configuring your mixing and monitoring setups
  • bundled software includes Avid Pro Tools First, Ableton Live Lite, Focusrite Red Plug-in Suite, and more
  • supports sample rates up to 192kHz
  • analog circuitry protects inputs and outputs from common mishaps, like plugging an output into a console with phantom power or shorting a mic input when phantom power is engaged
  • sleek, durable metal chassis
  • accepts mic, instrument, line-level, MIDI, ADAT, and S/PDIF signals
  • optical digital in/out allows up to eight channels of ADAT signals with external mic preamps and recorders
  • 2 front-panel XLR/TRS switchable mic/line/instrument inputs with 10dB pad for use with microphones, electric guitars and basses, and other instruments
  • 6 rear-panel XLR/TRS balanced mic/line inputs for use with microphones, keyboards, and drum machines
  • MIDI input/output for use with an external MIDI controller (up to 16 channels)
  • ten 1/4" balanced analog outputs for connecting powered studio monitors, mixing boards, or effects processors
  • ADAT-compatible optical (Toslink) digital input for connection to external ADAT devices such as a Focusrite 8-channel mic preamp
  • coaxial digital (S/PDIF) in/out
  • two 1/4" headphone outputs with independent volume control for discrete monitor mixes
  • USB 2.0 port for connection to a computer
  • word clock output (BNC connector) for synchronizing sampling clock with external digital recording equipment
General Features:
  • 24-bit analog-to-digital/digital-to-analog conversion with sampling rates of 44.1/48/88.2/96/176.4/192kHz
  • volume knob with Dim and Mute buttons for controlling levels in studio monitors (Dim button attenuates level by 18dB)
  • 48V phantom power is selectable for mic input groups 1-4 and 5-8
  • LED level meters for all 8 analog inputs
  • USB cable included
  • supported operating systems: Windows® 7 (64-bit), Windows 8.1, and Windows 10; Mac OS X 10.10 (Yosemite) and 10.11 (El Capitan)
  • 19"W x 1-3/4"H x 10-7/16"D (1U rack space)
  • warranty: 1 year
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee

What's in the Box:

  • Audio interface (18-in/20-out)
  • 5' USB cable (Type A USB on one end and Type B USB on other end)
  • 6' AC cord (IEC 3-prong)
  • 4 Self-adhesive rubber feet
  • Important Safety Instructions

Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 (Second Generation) Reviews

Average Customer Review(s):

(1 Review)

Solid Unit, Good Value

James from New Fairfield, CT on 12/11/2016

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

This unit replaced an old Presonus Firepod that finally died on me. While the latency is higher (on paper) with USB vs. Firewire, it has not been an issue, even on my 3yr old PC. Sound is crisp and clean, though the FP seemed slightly warmer, the difference is negligible. Overall a great product. Well built. From a design point of view it leaves a few things to be desired. For example, the Firepod managed to put 8 combo input Jacks on the front of the unit where this only has two (the other 6 are on the back, making it a bit inconvenient). On the other hand, the power switch was on the back of the FP, where the Scarlett has it on the front. So that's something of a consolation. One nice improvement: you can power the unit on and off while the monitors are on, and there's no popping. So you don't need to be as careful about the order in which you power things up. Heads up: if you use Pro Tools, you have to use a special driver for the Scarlett, which may cause problems with other software.

Pros: Clean sound, low latency, front mounted power switch that won't blow out your speakers

Cons: Minor design flaws (rear jack placement), sound can be a bit cold/bright


Hands-on research

Product Research



2nd Generation Overview: The Focusrite Scarlett line of USB audio interfaces is the best selling in the world. The second generation Scarlett products are still housed in a red anodized aluminum chassis, and feature upgrades to make your recordings sound even better. The new interfaces feature super-low latency to let you record and monitor your performance with software effects in real time. Scarlett 2nd Gen products have new metal volume controls, and now operate at sample rates of up to 192 kHz. The new Scarlett mic preamps have more gain structure to let you more accurately set your levels. At the same time, the redesigned instrument inputs have more head room to make it easier to record electric guitar without clipping. The new generation interfaces also have new analog protection circuitry across the inputs and outputs to guard against unwanted power surges.

Scarlett 18i20 (2nd Gen): The Scarlett 18i20 (2nd gen) is an 18-in/20-out USB recording interface, which allows you to record audio onto a Windows or Macintosh computer. The Scarlett 18i20 is designed for multi-instrumentalists, producers, studios, and bands who want to record audio from a wide range of sources, such as drums, guitars, keyboards, and vocals. It has 8 analog inputs, 10 balanced outputs, Optical and S/PDIF inputs and outputs, MIDI in and outs, and two headphone outputs with separate volume controls. You can expand the number of mic/line inputs by connecting an optional microphone preamplifier to the interface via the ADAT optical input. The 18i20 comes with a USB cable, AC power cord, and free software via download.

Mic Preamps: The Scarlet 18i20 2nd gen features eight high-quality Focusrite mic preamps with combo connectors that accept either XLR or 1/4" plugs. Two are mounted on the front panel, and the other six on the rear. The rotary input level controls on the front panel have unique gain "halo" indicators that change color to let you know if you have a good signal (green) or clipping (red). The award-winning Focusrite microphone preamps feature plenty of headroom and 48V phantom power when using condenser microphones.

Note: There are two switches for enabling 48V phantom power at the XLR contacts of the combo connectors for mic inputs 1-4 and 5-8 respectively.

Line Inputs: The combo connectors can be used to connect line-level devices via XLR or 1/4" plugs. The Scarlett 18i20 (2nd gen) does not have a "Mic/Line" switch because the preamplifier stage is automatically configured for a microphone when you plug an XLR into the input, and for a line level device (or instrument) when you connect a 1/4" plug. The line inputs will accept balanced or unbalanced inputs.

Instrument Inputs: Front panel Inputs 1 and 2 can be used for connecting an instrument, such as a guitar. They will accept TRS (balanced) or TS (unbalanced) plugs. You must set the inputs to Instrument when you connect a musical instrument via an ordinary 2-pole guitar jack by pushing the INST button below the rotary control.

10dB Pad: A 10dB pad may be inserted in each of the front input signal paths, controlled by the PAD buttons below the rotary control. The pad increases the headroom of the input stage and is used to reduce the input signals that are "too hot." The red "Pad" LED indicator glows when the pad is selected.

Digital Ins/Outs: The Scarlett 18i20 (2nd gen) is equipped with two pairs of digital inputs and outputs on the rear panel. One pair has optical (Toslink) connectors, while the other pair has S/PDIF (RCA coaxial) connectors. The optical ins/outs each carry eight channels of digital audio in ADAT format at 44.1/48 kHz sample rate, or four channels at 88.2/96 kHz. Using an optional mic preamp, such as the Focusrite Octopre MkII, you can expand the input capability of the Scarlett 18i20. These correspond to inputs 11 to 18 and outputs 13 to 20 to/from the Scarlett 18i20. The S/PDIF connections allow you to input two-channel digital audio signals into the interface, or output a digital signal to a digital recording device. They are seen as inputs 9 and 10, and outputs 11 and 12.

MIDI Ins/Outs: Two standard 5-pin DIN sockets are provided for connecting external MIDI equipment. The Scarlett 18i20 (2nd gen) serves as a Break-out / Break-in Box or Hub for routing MIDI data in and out of your computer, for distribution to other MIDI devices. When MIDI data is received at the MIDI IN port, the green "MIDI" LED will illuminate.

Word Clock: A rear-panel BNC connector carrying the Scarlett 18i20's word clock may be used to synchronize other digital audio equipment forming part of the recording system.

Direct Monitor: Direct Monitoring allows you to hear the output of the 18i20 without having to go through your computer (with possible latency effects). In the Focusrite Control software, you can control the balance between the input signal and the DAW playback.

Computer Interface: The Scarlett 18i20 (2nd gen) connects to your Windows or Macintosh computer via a USB 2.0 or 3.0-compliant USB port. The interface is compatible with the following operating systems:

  • Windows 7 (64-bit)
  • Windows 8.1
  • Windows 10
  • Mac OS X 10.10 (Yosemite)
  • Mac OS X 10.11 (El Capitan)

Included Software: Focusrite Scarlett interfaces come with Pro Tools/First recording software, which features the main features of Pro Tools 12 in an entry level package. All of the bundled software is available via free download with the code key included in the box. An Internet connection is required for downloading the software. The Scarlett 18i20 (2nd Gen) includes the following software:

  • Pro Tools/First
  • Focusrite Red 2 & 3 Plug-in Suite
  • Softube Time and Tone bundle
  • Ableton Live Lite
  • LoopMasters sample library
  • Novation Bass station
  • 18i20 USB Drivers for Windows
  • Multi-language User Guides


Configuration: 18 Inputs (8 Analog, 2 S/PDIF, 8 ADAT), 20 Outputs (10 Analog, 2 S/PDIF, 8 ADAT)

Supported Sample Rates: 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz, 192kHz

Analog Inputs: 8 x XLR / 1/4" combo jacks (Mic/Line switch: automatic; Line/Instrument switch on Inputs 1 & 2: manual)

  • Microphone Inputs:
    • Frequency Response: 20Hz to 20kHz (±0.5/-1.5 dB)
    • Dynamic Range: 109 dB (A-weighted)
    • Gain Range: 50dB (-4dB to +46dB)
    • THD+N: <0.002% (minimum gain, -1dBFS input with 22Hz/22kHz bandpass filter)
    • Noise EIN: -127dBu (A-weighted)
    • Maximum Input Level: +8.5 dBu (without pad)
  • Line Inputs:
    • Frequency Response: 20Hz to 20kHz (±0.5/-1.5 dB)
    • Dynamic Range: 109 dB (Line Inputs 1-2); 110 dB (Line Inputs 3-8)
    • THD+N: <0.003% (minimum gain, -1dBFS input with 22Hz/22kHz bandpass filter)
    • Gain Range: 50dB (-21dB to +29dB)
    • Maximum Input Level: +22 dB (Line Inputs 1-2), +16 dB (Line Inputs 3-8)
  • Instrument Inputs:
    • Frequency Response: 20Hz to 20kHz (±0.5/-1.5 dB)
    • Dynamic Range: 109 dB (A-weighted)
    • THD+N: <0.003% (minimum gain, -1dBFS input with 22Hz/22kHz bandpass filter)
    • Gain Range: 50dB (-4dB to +46dB)
    • Maximum Input Level: +12dBu

Line Outputs: 10 x 1/4" (balanced)

  • Frequency Response: 20Hz to 20kHz (±0.5dB)
  • Dynamic Range: 108 dB (A-weighted)
  • Maximum Output Level (0 dBFS): +16 dBu, balanced
  • THD+N: <0.001% (minimum gain, -1dBFS input with 22Hz/22kHz bandpass filter)

Headphone Outputs: 2 x 1/4"

  • Frequency Response: 20Hz to 20kHz (±0.5dB)
  • Dynamic Range: 108 dB (A-weighted)
  • Maximum Output Level (0 dBFS): > +13 dBu
  • THD+N: <0.001% (minimum gain, -1dBFS input with 22Hz/22kHz bandpass filter)

Dimensions: Width 17.4375" (19" with rack ears), Height 1.742", Depth 11.25"

Weight: 7 pounds 3 ounces

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